Kissing Candice – A visually stunning but confusing feature film debut from Aoife McArdle which leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Kissing Candice, Aoife McArdle’s Feature film debut, premiered at last year’s Toronto film Festival and went on to be shown at the Audi Dublin Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. McArdle is best known for creating music videos for U2’s single ‘Every Breaking Wave’ and Bryan Ferry’s ‘Loop Di Li’.


Candice, played by Red Rock’s Ann Skelly, is a rebellious 17-year-old who longs to escape the boredom of her life. She’s epileptic and it’s during these fits she has visions and dreams about meeting a handsome young man. The man in her dreams, Jacob (played by Ryan Lincoln) turns up in real life saving her from a potential vicious attack from the gang he’s a part of. She begins to develop a relationship with Jacob and becomes a target for the gang.

Filmed mostly in close ups which creates a sense of claustrophobia, the film is visually striking with the use of special effects and colours. However, at times I found the colouring so dark that the detail on screen was lost or obscured.

The story is told in a disjointed fashion with short scenes, some being used more for visual effect rather than to drive the narrative. There were mentions of the border with some characters speaking in a strong Dublin accent while others spoke in a Northern Irish accent. It made it difficult place when and where the film was set with the lack of mobile phones and with the setting of a Dublin like council estate and the use of fields, forests and the sea within walking distance.

Some questions remained unanswered. Why did the gang leave a dolls house burning in the middle of the road and then burn a derelict house, why if Candice and Jacob were so terrified of the gang that they spent a long time hanging around a church, a place where the gang could easily find them, why were the gang a gang at all? There seem to be no meaning to them besides causing trouble for troubles sake. Why were the gang even after Jacob? He appears tarred and feathered in one scene and then the next he has his arm in sling and brace around his neck and soon after appears ok. What was part of Candice’s imagination or what was real?

It’s the visuals that win out in the film with parts of it reminiscent of Ryan Goslings ‘Lost River’ but ultimately Kissing Candice is let down by a confusing script which leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions.

  • Written and Directed by: Aoife McArdle
  • Starring: Ann Skelly and Ryan Lincoln
  • Run Time: 1hr and 48min
  • Rated: TV-14
  • Budget: €300,000 (est.)
  • Released: April 11th, 2018 (US) | June 22nd, 2018 (Ireland)

Review by Claire Millane, a Dublin based actor and writer, and one of the presenters of No-Budget

Kissing Candice Trailer